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Nation’s Emergency Physicians Warn about Dangers of Dog Bites

Posted Apr 18 2009 12:31am
With spring approaching, more people will be going outdoors to enjoy warmer weather. That also might mean more contact with dogs, either being walked by their owners or unaccompanied. Since 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) wants to warn Americans about the dangers of dog bites and help prevent them before they happen.

“Most dogs are friendly, with no intentions to cause harm to anyone,” said Dr. Nick Jouriles, president of ACEP. “But sometimes they act aggressively toward strangers for a variety of reasons. “Most dog bites are not fatal, but at least one in five requires medical attention, including a trip to the emergency department.”

How can dog bites be prevented?
Avoid unfamiliar dogs or any dogs acting strangely. Just stay away from them if you can.
· Don’t run from a dog, scream, startle them or make loud noises.
· Remain motionless if approached by an unfamiliar, possibly threatening dog.
· If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still, and cover your head if possible.
· Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
· Don’t bother a dog if it’s sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
· Don’t pet an unknown dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
· Talk to you kids about this information, make sure they understand the dangers before they go out and play.

What do you do if you are bitten?
· Tell children to immediately inform an adult and seek medical attention.
· If bleeding, put pressure on the wound and clean the area with running water.
· If you develop a fever or other signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, pain, a bad smell or fluid draining from the area, see a physician immediately.
· Call 911 if it is a severe attack, extensive bleeding or near the facial area.
· Most dogs that have owners are vaccinated against rabies. If you are not sure, contact your doctor, your local health department or animal control.
· Children or adults may need a tetanus shot.

For more information about dog bites and other medical related topics, go to

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine with more than 27,000 members. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.
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